How to Get Someone out of Your Head
We’re emotional creatures and, let’s face it, sometimes people get in our heads. But that person only has as much power over you as you’re willing to give them. Remember that the more time you spend obsessing about them, the more control you’re allowing them to have over you. As the philosopher Eric Hoffer wrote, “To wrong those we hate is to add fuel to our hatred.”Fortunately, you’re not alone in having to learn to deal with these kinds of situations, and there are a number of strategies you can adopt to avoid letting someone get in your head and wreak havoc on your life.
Getting an Ex Out of Your Head
Accept that the relationship has ended.You can’t move on until you’ve accepted that you and your former partner are no longer together and that the relationship isn’t coming back.
Cut off communication.Don’t call, text, email, or otherwise contact or talk to your ex. It will only make it harder for you to get yourself together and move on.
- There may be a time when you and your former partner can be friends, but that time is definitely not now.
- Absolutely under no circumstances visit their Facebook page. Unfriend them and stay away.
- Also stay away from his or her close friends. It may be difficult if you have mutual friends, but for the time being, stick close to your own friends. You’ll avoid getting pulled back into any drama and hearing about what your ex is up to.
Get rid of reminders of the relationship.Go through and get rid of any mementos, photos, or other reminders of your former relationship.
- You can’t move on if you’re still clinging to remnants of the relationship, and you definitely won’t move on if you still attach sentiment to them.
Stay away from places you used to frequent with your ex.Hanging out in places the two of you used to go will make it harder for you to move on.
- You may be able to begin going back to them eventually, but for now, stay away.
Deal with your feelings.Recognize the feelings that you still have about the person and/or relationship, whether it’s anger, sadness, disappointment, longing, or resentment.
- Don’t try to hide from the feelings. Instead, allow yourself to feel them fully; so if you need to wallow, then wallow. Accept your feelings so that then you can begin to move on.
Learn from the relationship.Think critically about why the relationship ended, including mistakes you made as well as mistakes your ex-partner may have made.
- Use what you've learned from the mistakes each of you made to begin building strategies to avoid similar missteps in the future.
Find healthy ways to vent.Using healthy outlets will not only help you deal with your feelings but also improve your own well-being at the same time.
- Beating yourself up or becoming self-destructive will make the situation infinitely worse and make the process of moving on much longer and harder.
- Let your friends and family be your resource--talk to them and let them be there for you.
- Going running, hitting the gym (hello, punching bag!), taking a hike, joining a yoga class...all excellent options.
- Write--but don’t send--an angry letter. Let all your ugliest feelings out and let yourself have some catharsis. Butdo notsend the letter. It will make your situation worse rather than better and stop you from moving on.
Find a role model.Look for a strong role model you can look up to as well as take inspiration from. Perhaps a friend or character or public figure who got back up better than ever after getting knocked down.
- The more you can take inspiration from people who have stumbled and caught themselves, the easier it will be to envision yourself doing the same.
Date other people.It’s harder to pine for an ex when you’re seeking new partners. But make sure to keep your feelings about your ex and the relationship out of your new dating scene.
- Avoid bringing up or grumbling about your ex with a date--don’t let the old relationship taint your new ones.
Getting an Enemy Out of Your Head
Know the limits of your knowledge.Without the benefit of hindsight, it’s often quite difficult to know what’s motivating the other person or what they truly feel or think about you.
- Rather than assume they must just hate you, allow for the possibility that you’re projecting feelings that may not be there.
- Understand that they’re just as human as you are. Everyone has struggles in their lives that contribute to how they act--it’s entirely possible your enemy is antagonistic because of difficulties they're struggling with.
- Learn from the quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”
Learn from others.Pay close attention to the people who get along with your enemy. Learn from how they handle the dynamic to gain insight into what may not be working between you and your enemy and why.
- If it’s a kind of behavior you’re comfortable emulating, try picking up tips from your observations to see if you can rejigger the tenor of you and your enemy's relationship.
Find out what they want.Knowing what they’re trying to achieve is crucial to dealing with the problem. Are they jealous of something you have? Did you (consciously or unconsciously) slight them in some way? Do you do something that annoys them?
- Knowing what’s driving their behavior can help you get out in front of their negative behavior and possibly blunt the effect their actions have on you.
Decide how to respond.When you know what’s motivating the person’s behavior, you can begin to address it. You’ll have two options: improve the relationship or learn how to limit their effect on you.
- If it’s an issue of a small habit or behavior you have that irritates them, you can consider not doing those things around them or sitting down with them to explain your behavior and help them accept it.
- If it’s a more serious issue or you simply can’t figure out what their problem is, confront them about it. Nothing shuts down misconceptions or bad feelings like addressing them head-on.
- Apologize if it’s warranted. If you did something either knowingly or unknowingly to upset them, apologize sincerely (and don’t do it again) so you can both move on.
- Talk to the person calmly and coolly. Don’t accuse or antagonize, just have an honest conversation.
Don’t encourage their behavior.Even if your enemy says rude or insensitive things about you, your friends, or your family, don't give them the satisfaction of seeing it upset you.
- In these situations, your enemy is simply looking for a reaction, and when they get one it will only encourage them to continue the behavior. If you want it to stop, start by ignoring them and their comments.
- Don’t listen to or spread rumors; it only perpetuates the problem. The more emotionally engaged you become, the more power you’re giving to your enemy.
- Avoid them. Limit your contact with them as much as possible. Sometimes distance is enough to diffuse the situation.
Cultivate allies.Nothing balances the negative impact of an enemy like having allies. The more people you have on your side and who see you as kind, helpful, respectful, etc., the less impact any potential enemy sabotage can have on you.
- When you're tempted to say something negative about your enemy, turn that energy around and instead say something nice to another person.
- Spreading positivity rather than negativity will give you the advantage over your enemy.
Getting a Bully Out of Your Head
Stay calm.Bullies love a reaction, and they particularly love an emotional reaction.
- As soon as they know they’re getting to you, they’re going to keep digging in deeper.
- If you must react to the bully at all, do so calmly and coolly. Being the calm one not only makes the bully look immature, it shifts the power dynamic to make you the powerful one--a state of affairs that bullies hate.
Take action early on.Don’t allow the situation to escalate before taking measures to manage it.
- The longer a bad situation goes unchecked, the more negatively it will impact you and the more powerful and entitled the bully will feel.
Know that it isn’t about you.The bully’s issue is entirely their own--it isn’t about you, it’s about their weaknesses and insecurities.
- Don’t ever allow the bully to convince you that you brought this on yourself. They alone are responsible for their own behavioral choices.
Do your research.Look into the types of bullying behavior, what motivates a bully, and how to understand bully.
- Many bullies are victims of violence themselves and are acting out. Knowing this can help you have some compassion as well as help you better understand the true power dynamic between the two of you..
Gain allies whenever possible.Build a support network: the more people you have on your side who are willing to support you, the harder you’ll be to target.
- Having allies will also help you feel confident and supported, two characteristics that bullies find very defeating.
Keep a record.Write down the time, place, and a description of each encounter in case you need to bring a formal or informal complaint against them.
- Having specific times, places, and descriptions of your encounters with this person will make it very difficult for them to deny the truth of what you’re saying or to try to shift the blame onto you.
Avoid them as much as possible.The less you see them, the fewer opportunities they'll have to manipulate you.
- Not having opportunities to bully or otherwise manipulate you will leave a bully bored and they’ll begin searching for a more gratifying target.
Get a supervisor, teacher, or other authority figure involved.If the problem can't be solved by simply ignoring or avoiding the bully, it's time to get someone with authority involved.
- If you've been keeping a record of the events--which is recommended--show the other person your records, describe the bully’s behavior to them, and explain how that behavior impacts you.
Take care of yourself.Find healthy ways to vent your emotions, whether it’s working out, doing yoga, or writing in a journal. It's important that you spend time caring for yourself rather than caring about what the bully is saying or thinking.
- If the bullying is a significant source of stress, consider talking with a therapist to help you manage the situation..
- People possess the power you give them--the more you fixate on a person, the more power they have over you.
- If you find yourself always in conflict with others, the problem may be you and it may be time to begin changing your behavior.
- Limit your venting. It’s absolutely good and justified to vent about the situation, but be careful your venting doesn’t turn into obsessing. Don’t let this person dominate your life.
- Remember that if you can predict the person’s behavior, you can plan for it. And being prepared for what you know they’re going to do will both empower you and help you minimize its impact.
- Bear in mind that not all situations merit a reaction or deserve your attention. Don’t obsess over every slight thing the other person does; let the small stuff go. Don’t allow them to consume your life.
Sources and Citations
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